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As we celebrate the civility, hope, tolerance, discipline, and perseverance that encompassed the life and period of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. it is important to recognize the depth and breadth of his experiences. It may for some, be difficult to envision the daily challenges that he had to endure unless you engulf yourself in history, by reading or watching significant accounts similar to what is explained in the historical “Eyes on the Prize” documentary. The Poor People’s Campaign was the last mission that Dr. King was on prior to being gunned down. In partnership with the Southern Christian Leadership Council, he hoped to address issues of economic justice and housing for poor people in the United States, with a focus on rebuilding America's cities.
Under the "economic bill of rights" the Poor People's Campaign asked the federal government to prioritize helping the poor with an antipoverty package that included housing and a guaranteed annual income for all Americans.
Although Ralph Abernathy had taken over as SCLC president following King's death, on April 4, 1968, the campaign's leadership lacked the momentum that King might have provided. The combined setbacks of bad press, Robert Kennedy's assassination, and an overwhelming number of protesters (7,000 at its peak) further limited the campaign's effectiveness. Failing to force a response from legislators, the Poor People's Campaign closed its doors on June 19, 1968.
Today the U.S. is the world's wealthiest nation. Yet 14.5 percent of this country’s households—nearly 49 million Americans, including 16.2 million children—struggle to put food on the table.
So what would Dr. King want us to do with this day? How would he advocate that we spend our time? I submit the moral concept of service. Giving back and supporting individuals and communities who are struggling to make ends meet, in need of words of encouragement, unable to feed themselves or their family. It is no coincidence that history is repeating itself as there is much work to be done and possibly a different path to travel. Greed, selfishness, and disregard for providing assistance to others have been the order of the day for quite some time. I hope you will find a better way to acknowledge the life and legacy of a selfless fighter for all Americans in Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
While the baton has traveled through the hands of so many, from Dr. King, that mantel has now been handed to President Barack Obama to carry. “There are some difficult days ahead” were the words of Dr. King and shall also be those of President Obama. However, I know that many join this writer in acknowledging, much like Dr. King, he is up to the challenge as history of having “been to the mountain top”, is on his side.
Ed Foxworth is an Entrepreneur and Author of both “The Six Routines of Self-Discovery” and the newly released “Recapture Your Passion” System. To book him as a Speaker or to pick up your copy of his self-help books or CD’s, visit www.edwardfoxworth.com/store